Updated: Tuesday, 03 Nov 2009, 11:35 AM EST
myFOXDetroit.com Staff & The Associated Press
DETROIT (AP) – Voters began trickling to Detroit’s polls Tuesday for an election to decide who will lead the financially struggling and scandal-plagued city for the next four years.
Incumbent Dave Bing is opposed by Tom Barrow for a full, four-year term as mayor, while 18 people compete for nine city council seats. Bing was elected in a May runoff to complete the second term of Kwame Kilpatrick, who resigned in September 2008 before entering jail as part of pleas in two criminal cases.
After voting with his wife Tuesday morning, Bing said he hoped the election would finally put some distance between the city’s future and its former leader.
“It just keeps a cloud over the city here, and it’s unfortunate for our citizens and the city,” Bing told WJBK-TV. “But we’ve got to get it behind us and move on. And we need to heal, no doubt about it.”
Polls opened at 7 a.m. and remain open until 8 p.m. for the nonpartisan general election.
Five incumbent council members and 13 challengers are competing for nine seats on the board.
The council has been the subject for more than a year of a federal corruption probe that let to the conviction of Councilwoman Monica Conyers for bribe-taking.
City elections officials estimate about 25 percent of Detroit’s 572,502 registered voters will cast ballots. About 17 percent voted in an August primary.
A combined 60 people cast ballots in the first hour of voting at two precincts at Pasteur Elementary School in a relatively affluent section of northwest Detroit.
Retired corporate librarian Janice Novachcoff, 67, said she voted for Bing but not with great enthusiasm.
“People with tax problems make me nervous,” she said of Barrow, who was convicted of bank fraud and tax charges in 1994. Bing, she said, “is doing things. He’s not saying a whole lot.”
“I don’t like either candidate very much,” said Detroit firefighter Otis Holt, 42, who said he objected to Bing’s favored policy of privatizing services.
Detroit faces a $300 million budget deficit, and Holt said the next mayor will have a tough job making painful cuts and scrambling for revenue.
“Detroit’s going to have some hard times,” he said. “I feel for Bing or Barrow, whoever is elected. He’s going to have some hard issues.”